Jamesport Vineyards: No Pizza Today February 3, 2018

wehttp://www.jamesportwines.com/

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Don’t let the sunshine fool you–It was COLD!

In the summer, Jamesport has a wood-fired oven on the back patio, where they make thin-crust pizzas.  They also often serve local oysters, and we have enjoyed sitting outside there with a glass of white wine and a plate of oysters in the summer sun, listening to music.  However, this was the day after Groundhog Day, the icy parking lot made it clear there would be no sitting outside today, and when a couple came in seeking pizza they were referred to the restaurant Grana, just down the street.  They were offered a cheese and charcuterie plate ($42), which a couple of large parties were having at their tables. (Jamesport does not allow pets or outside food, and allows children only outside in the back yard, not in the bar area.)

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In the summer it is lovely to sit out here and enjoy music, oysters, and pizza from the wood-fired oven.

While some people might have been disappointed at the lack of pizza, they would not be disappointed in the wines.  We tried ten (well, actually eleven) and liked most of them.  The tasting menu offers any five wines for $20 from a list that includes six whites, six reds, three petillant naturels (sparkling wines), and a verjus.  We decided to share two tastings, starting with the whites and then doing reds.

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The nice-sized barn-like tasting room was surprisingly full for a mid-week winter day, but the lone server bustled about and was able to attend to everyone’s needs, including chatting with us about the wines and customizing our tasting.  I am often so impressed with the people who serve in the wineries, with their ability to keep everyone’s tastings straight, recommend wines for varying tastes, and stay cheerful throughout.

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  1. 2015 East End Chardonnay        $18.95

Through a window in the wall of the tasting room you can see the steel vats in which this chardonnay is fermented.  We sniff and identify citrus, orange, flowers, and another smell and taste we can’t quite identify until our server suggests almonds.  Yes, bitter almond it is.  We like this chardonnay, with its full taste and long finish, not too sweet, with a bit of minerality.  We discuss what to pair it with, and settle on tuna, like the lovely tuna steaks we bought at the Riverhead Farmers Market last week.

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What’s the difference between East End and Estate? At Jamesport, the former is their less expensive line. Legally, I’ve been told, “estate” doesn’t mean anything, so wineries can define it as they like.

  1. 2015 Estate Chardonnay $22.95

Oaked chards are not my favorite, but this one is not too oaky, with some lime and pear tastes, and almonds again.  Both chards have a long finish.  The tasting notes say “honey,” which I identify as the mouth feel of the wine.  I could see having this with a spicy Italian seafood dish, like a fra diavolo.

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  1. 2014 Sauvage Reserve $30.95

Our server is able to tell us that this wine uses sauvignon blanc clones, but not whether or not the word “sauvage” refers to wild yeast.  In any event, this is another nice wine, a bit on the light side even though it is aged in oak, with a taste that reminds me of a fruit salad seasoned with a bit of liqueur.  If I were here in the summer and having oysters, I’d get a glass of this, though we are told that a new vintage of this will be coming out soon, so I’d try a taste before I committed to a glass.

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See my notes before you decide which riesling to try.

  1. 2013 Estate Riesling $22.95

There are two rieslings on the menu, and we choose this one because the other is called Demi-Sec, and is described as slightly sweet.  Interestingly, this one is actually sweeter, as we discover when we tell our server it is too sweet for us.  Here, he says, try a little taste of the 2013 Demi-Sec Riesling ($22.95).  We like it better.  It is less cloying and lighter, with an aroma that reminds us of cider.  The menu describes the Estate Riesling as “crisp.”  Nope.

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By this time, we were friends with the server, so when he noted the bottle was almost empty he gave us the rest in our taste.

  1. 2015 East End CINQ Blanc $18.95

No surprise, this is a blend of five whites: chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling, albariño, and pinot blanc.  We describe this as a good, everyday table wine, and our friend the server agrees.  It has a touch of sweetness, but not too much, with tastes of kiwi and peach and some minerality.  You could have it with an omelet in the morning, he suggests, which leads to various humorous comments about a day that starts like that.  How about with a quiche, I offer.  If I needed some whites at home, I might have bought this one.

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  1. 2014 East End CINQ Red $19.95

New glass as we switch to our red tasting, starting with another blend of five, this time of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, syrah, and pinot noir.  I decide it smells like a Bordeaux, and if I had to guess I would bet that it has more cabernet sauvignon than merlot.  It smells like dark fruits and berries and tastes like that, too.  It is a somewhat light red, with no depth and some tannins, and would make a perfect picnic wine.

  1. 2013 Merlot Estate $27.95

This is another easy to drink wine, with the expected cherry aroma and taste, plus some hints of dark chocolate.  It would go well with lamb or pork, but is not big enough to have with steak.

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The sign tells you how many bottles of wine you can get per acre of grapes. An acre can yield about 300 bottles!

  1. 2015 Estate Syrah $24.95

I tend to like syrahs, and I like this one, too.  I smell and taste dark fruits, especially purple plum, plus some spice, perhaps pepper.  Really dry, this has strong tannins that make me think it could age.  This wine would be fine with steak.

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  1. 2014 Estate Cabernet Franc $32.95

And aging is what I think this cab needs.  It doesn’t have much aroma.  Lots of tannins, and it is dry, but the fruit seems underdeveloped to me.  Just okay.

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  1. 2014 Mélange de Trois $34.95

If you know French, you can deduce that this is a blend of three grapes and a play on “ménage à trois”:  cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc.  It is aged for two years in French oak, and then another two years in the bottle.  We get into a discussion of the various grapes in this wine, and our server tells us how cabernet sauvignon does not do well every year.  In fact, last year rather than use their cabernet sauvignon grapes in their own wine, they felt they did not meet Jamesport’s standards and sold the whole crop to Premium Wine Group.  We like this wine, too, though it is more austere than luscious.  Dry, with good tannins, it has blackberry and spice tastes.  I could see having this with leg of lamb or steak frites.

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Seems like a nice selection of cheeses.

Reasons to visit:  in the summer, a big outdoor area with music and wood-oven pizza and oysters; in the winter, a cozy tasting room with cheese trays; the East End Chardonnay, the Sauvage Reserve, the East End CINQ Blanc and Red, the Mélange de Trois.  We didn’t get to try the sparkling wines, but they have three if you were interested to try them.

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Jamesport Vineyards: Summer time! May 10, 2015

http://www.jamesportwines.com/

The entrance to Jamesport Vineyards

The entrance to Jamesport Vineyards

Jamesport Vineyards is a great place to go in the summer because they have a huge back yard area.  When we were there on Mother’s Day a bunch of kids had started an impromptu baseball game (with a plastic bat), a singer-guitarist played folkie/pop songs, and groups lingered at the picnic tables scattered on the grounds.  However, since their tasting policy is “one taste at a time,” it is best to go there when you plan to order a glass of wine—I suggest the Reserve Sauvignon Blanc or the Cinq Blanc—and a plate of oysters, rather than go for a tasting if you want to hang out outside.  (They start serving oysters soon, when they also fire up the outdoor oven to make flatbreads.)

One view of the spacious back yard

One view of the spacious back yard

We did both—a tasting inside at the bar, then a glass each to sip as we relaxed outside.  Since our son was with us, we decided to share two tastings, which are $15 for five tastes, chosen from their menu of wines.   We coordinated our choices, so you’ll get to read about ten of their wines.  There were a few we didn’t get to sample, such as their rosé, which, after being at Croteaux the day before, we decided not to try.

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You can peek at some of the wine-making equipment from the tasting room.

You can peek at some of the wine-making equipment from the tasting room.

  1. East End Chardonnay                    $16.95

90% steel fermented, 10% oak, means that this is a somewhat crisp chardonnay, though it is a tad sweet for us.  The aroma is of citrus and roasted pear.

If you order certain wines, you support aquaculture on the East End.

If you order certain wines, you support aquaculture on the East End.

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  1. East End Cinq Blanc $16.95

Cinq means five, and this is a blend of five grapes:  chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, riesling, gewürztraminer, and pinot blanc.  The aroma is interesting, as is the taste.  We smell a bit of a funky, wet forest smell, and taste kiwi and key lime.  We like this wine, and pronounce it “piquant.”

  1. 2012 Dry Riesling $25.95

Our son was thinking of trying their other riesling, but we persuaded him to try the dry one, as the other is described as sweet.  Then when we smelled it we thought we’d be sorry, since the aroma is quite funky and musty.  However, it tastes better than it smells, though the taste carries a bit of that funkiness.  Mostly it is dry and crisp, with lots of lemon and a touch of wet rock.  (Okay, so I’ve never tasted a wet rock, but if you go outside in Manhattan and take a good whiff of the air after a doorman has rinsed the hot sidewalk on a hot summer day, then imagine what that would taste like, you’ll get what I mean.)

  1. 2013 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc $27.95

Nice.  Flowery honeysuckle aroma and a nice mouth feel with a fair amount of fruit, especially barely ripe cantaloupe, make this a good one.  You can sense a bit of oakiness.

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  1. East End Cinq Red $16.95

As we switch to reds, we get new glasses, a nice touch.  Cinq again refers to five grapes, in this case cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, pinot noir, and petit syrah.  The aroma is quite sweet, like red candy but with a touch of tobacco smokiness.  I say it is tart, while my two companions insist on saying sour.  Okay, so how about with a rich lasagna made with hot sausage?  That would work, they agree.

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  1. 2010 Mattituck Cabernet Franc $30

“Mattituck” refers to their vineyard in that town, and we think it must be a good one.  The wine smells delicious—chocolate, tobacco, and ripe plum—and tastes pretty good too, though it is quite tannic.  Think about how a strong cup of tea without milk makes your tongue feel…

  1. 2010 Mélange de Trois $34.95

Ha-ha, we get it, like a ménage à trois only with three wines.  41% cabernet sauvignon, 23% cabernet franc, and 31% merlot is the combo here.  Funky aroma again, lots of blackberry tastes, pretty tannic:  we like it!   It would pair well with lamb or beef stew.

  1. 2010 MTK Syrah $30

I tend to like syrahs, and this is no exception.  Lovely smells of black cherry and spice, tastes of red cherry, cocoa, and a touch of tobacco.  I could see this with a nice pork roast.  Oh, and MTK is the abbreviation for Mattituck.

The tasting room is fine, but we wanted to be outside.

The tasting room is fine, but we wanted to be outside.

  1. 2007 Jubilant Reserve $34.95

A Bordeaux blend, this wine has 68% cabernet franc, 18% merlot, 14% cabernet sauvignon, 2.5% syrah, and 2.5% petit verdot—and a fruity aroma.  However, it is surprisingly light, and would not stand up to a big steak.  However, I like it, and compare the taste to dried cranberries, which at first surprises my companions and then they nod their heads in agreement.

  1. 2007 “SIDOR” Syrah Reserve $34.95

We manage to get the very busy server to stop for a moment and explain the name of this wine; “It’s for the name of the farmer who owns the land,” she says, before hurrying off to fill the next glass.  Although it is called syrah, this is actually a blend of 62% syrah, 18% cabernet sauvignon, 9% cabernet franc, 9% merlot, and 2% petit verdot.  The smell is…not good.  Musty basement, I opine, and they agree.  The taste is dry, of cherries, but also a tad funky.  Our son likes it but wouldn’t particularly buy it.

That yard is calling.

That yard is calling.

After the tasting we each get a glass—the Cinq Blanc for our son (plus he buys a bottle to take home), and the Mélange de Trois for us—and sit outside to savor the beautiful weather, the laid-back scene, the wine, the music, and the company of each other.

Bud break has happened!

Bud break has happened!

Reasons to visit:  the lovely back yard area where you can bring a picnic or buy oysters or flatbreads or other snacks; the Cinq Blanc, the Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, the Mattituck Cabernet Franc, the Mélange de Trois, the MTK Syrah, the Jubilant Reserve.

Another view of Jamesport's expansive yard.

Another view of Jamesport’s expansive yard.